Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
History Quarterly Digital Archives

Source: Fall 2006 Volume 43 Number 4, Pages 118, 126, 133

Notes and Comments

Page 118

Paoli Then and Now Photograph Project

In the summer of 2006, between her junior and senior years at Conestoga High School, Monica Sehgal prepared a large 3-part digital group of 134 images of “Paoli Then & Now” in fulfillment of the Girl Scouts of America Gold Award. Full scale color reproductions of the photographs themselves, as well as 3 Power Point-ready CDs of all the images, are in a large 3-ring binder in the local history section of the Paoli Library. Most of the 72 “Then” photographs are high quality scans of the postcards in the “Postcards from Paoli” album also in the local history section of the library. The “Now” section is a series of 46 “Paoli Now” photographs taken during July and August of 2006. A third section of 16 photographs, called “A Day in the Life of Paoli,” was taken by teenagers in a young adult program at the library.

Paoli Community Master Plan

A community update from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dated May 2006 reported that “More than four yeas after construction of the final remedy began ... a major portion of the cleanup of the [22-acre] Paoli Rail Yard Superfund Site has been completed.” The update concluded, “The rail yard, which has been inactive for more than 10 years, is now ready for reuse. Amtrak, the owner of the property, is working with the local townships to develop reuse plans. ... EPA will continue to work ... to ensure the reuse plans are compatible with the cleanup remedy.”

Tredyffrin and Willistown Townships are working on joint ordinance amendments to regulate and guide development at a Transportation Center District and a Core Business District that overlap the boundaries of both townships. The 3rd planned district, a Mixed Use District, lies within Tredyffrin Township boundaries. Plans for the new Paoli train station near Greenwood Avenue in the new Transportation Center District on the site of the Paoli Rail Yard Superfund Site also call for 1,000 parking spaces and pedestrian access to the station from both sides of the tracks. Amtrak has announced their intention to develop the site and is in the process of selecting a developer. All 3 planned districts call for new sidewalks.

A 143-page report of the “Paoli Community Master Plan” will be found at the Tredyffrin Township home page at

Valley Forge National Historical Park Construction Projects and related news

Early in October 2006 Mike Caldwell, superintendent of the park, announced several construction projects. Three of these are: the former Betzwood Bridge, a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation bridge near the former village of Port Kennedy that extended Trooper Road across the Schuylkill River and that was demolished for safety reasons in 1995, is scheduled for a 2-year reconstruction to end in the middle of 2008; the Pennsylvania Turnpike will be completely reconstructed and widened from 4 to 6 lanes from the Valley Forge interchange westward for approximately 6 miles with scheduled dates from 2007 to 2010 although the park office warns that turnpike projects often lag behind published schedules by 6 months to a year or more; and the area of Washington's Headquarters and the Valley Forge Train Station that will be rehabilitated with more accessible parking and paths, restrooms, and interpretive areas. Full details on these and other park construction projects will be found at

Page 126 (continued from page 118)

The 141-year-old Knox Covered Bridge over Valley Creek in the park was closed for repairs for several days in June 2006. The damage was apparently caused by a vehicle that exceeded the bridge's 10-foot height restriction. The bridge was built in 1865 and was last rehabilitated in 1996. About 2,000 vehicles use it every day. The American Revolution Center planned for the park received new life in October 2006. Original plans for the center had been proposed in November 2005 but broke off then when a major nonprofit supporter and the park could not agree on the project. In October the new park superintendent, Mike Caldwell, announced a new chairman for the center, Gerry Lenfest, and also that there was increased bipartisan political support to resume negotiations. The original 2005 estimated cost for the center, $100 million, had increased to $150 million by 2006. Construction cannot begin until the project is approved by the Appropriations Committee and until the entire cost is raised through private funding. The center is expected to take 5 years to complete and would be the first museum dedicated exclusively to the American Revolution.

Easttown Library Director Retires

Mrs. Margaret “Peggy” Mahan, Director of the Easttown Library & Information Center for over 10 years, retired on October 2, 2006. She began her work in Berwyn on April 15, 1996. She was involved in planning the new 16,000 square-foot library which cost $4.2 million and which opened for business on February 21, 2003. She also presided over the Library's Centennial Celebration in 2005.

Vassar Show House and Gardens Takes a Break

After 40 years—since 1966—the annual Vassar Show House and Gardens will take a break in 2007 and the future after that remains uncertain. The organizers gave several reasons for this decision: attendance had declined from 19,000 in 1991 to 8,000 in 2006, a lack of young volunteers to oversee the year-long planning for each annual house, rising annual costs for promoting each house, difficulty in finding a large house in a location with enough parking space for 200 people, visitors who now do their own decorating rather than hire the professional decorators who design the spaces in the house or gardens, and the growth of other local organizations also sponsoring show houses. The proceeds of this project funded scholarships for Philadelphia area students to attend Vassar and in its 40 years had raised a total of $3 million. An extensive article by C. Herbert Fry about the 8 Vassar Show Houses in Tredyffrin and Easttown Townships between 1967 and 2005 was published in the Summer 2005 issue of the Tredyffrin Easttown History Quarterly.

Page 133 (continued from page 126)

Devon Manor Senior Living Community Celebrates 50th Anniversary

A banner on the fence facing Lancaster Avenue reminds us that Devon Manor has been serving senior citizens of our community for 50 years. Originally, it was the location of a mansion called “Llangollen” on the hillside just south of the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks a short distance west of the Devon Horse Show grounds. In 1900 it was owned by Dr. C. M. Thomas. In 1956 William W. Grim purchased the mansion, remodeled it, and opened the “Devon Manor for Convalescents” with accommodations for 30 persons. In 1959 a one-story wing was added for 26 additional beds, another wing in 1962 added 18 more beds, and a two-story wing in 1965 added elevator service, a courtyard, lounges, and recreational facilities. A fire in 1967 forced the evacuation of 100 persons and damaged the 3rd and 4th floors of the original mansion which were removed and replaced with new construction. When Mr. Grim retired the facility was acquired by Manor Care.

Second Annual Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust Historic House Tour

On September 24, 2006 the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust conducted its 2nd annual historic house tour to raise funds for rebuilding the Jones Log Barn in Wilson Farm Park. The houses on the tour were: DuPortail House, 297 Adams Drive, Chesterbrook; Potter's Quarters, 360 Red Coat Lane, Wayne; Sprucemont, 181 North Valley Forge Road, Devon; the Barn at Sprucemont, 185 North Valley Forge Road, Devon and owned by Judy DiFilippo, chair of the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors; Poor's Quarters, 1406 Thomas Road, Wayne; Howe's Quarters, 453 Old State Road, Berwyn; the Baptist Church in the Great Valley, 945 North Valley Forge Road, Devon; and the House at Jenkins Arboretum, 631 Berwyn Baptist Road, Devon.

Amtrak Improves Track between Philadelphia and Harrisburg

During the spring and summer of 2006 Amtrak completed a $145 million overhaul to install welded track on its 2 inside tracks so express service could be started between Philadelphia and Harrisburg on October 30, 2006. This trip, which used to take 2 hours one way on the 104-mile route, now takes only 1 hours and reaches speeds of 110 mph.

Vanguard Group Development Moving Ahead

The Vanguard Group's plans to develop its property, Happy Days Farm, located one Pennsylvania Turnpike exit west of the Valley Forge interchange, into a second corporate campus is moving ahead. Road improvements and work on the entrance is expected to start in 2007.


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